Serological Testing for Herpes Can Lead to Misinterpretation in Disease Transmission

Craig G. Burkhart *, 1, Craig N. Burkhart2
1 University of Toledo College of Medicine, USA
2 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA

© 2009 Burkhart and Burkhart

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the University of Toledo School of Medicine, 5600 Monroe Street, Suite 106B, Sylvania, OH 43560, USA; Tel: 419-885-3403; Fax: 419-885-3401;


Herpes is a ubiquitous virus which can produce orolabial and genital infections in humans. Multiple laboratory tests are available to diagnose herpes infections including viral culture, direct fluorescent antibody assays, molecular techniques, and serology. The use of serological markers has lead to numerous epidemiological studies, but there results can be misleading. Seropositivity merely signifies that a person reacts in a specific type of immunological response to specific viral proteins, it certainly does not rule out the existence of the virus in the host. Serological testing for fungal or most viral infections do not approach total diagnostic accuracy. The numerous herpes transmission studies based exclusively on serological testing and seroconversion (despite being published in esteemed journals) have major deficits and may well not be clinically significant.